Some days, my kids collect calamities like honey in a hive. Skinned knees, misplaced socks, the misfortune of math facts, a sister who will not share, the ingratitude of a world bent on rain. The injustices pile up, ripe for picking, stashing, savoring, like a lemon-drop that puckers your lips but you . . . just . . . can’t . . . stop.

These are the tally-sheet days with their negative columns bulging, days that defy us to controvert Murphy’s Law, the willfulness of woebegone with its eye trained, staring. At us.

And then the fish dies.

Sometimes I handle this wealth of adversity with grace. More often, I struggle not to run from the prospect of one more tear, one more sniffle, one more princess band-aid, one more disaster claimed. Fallen blocks, the wrong snack, a play date canceled — they’re all fractured moments for a four-year old, a seven-year old. It’s hard to see the other end of disappointment when you have such a small handful of life for comparison. As a parent, I lose my patience. Are they really having a fit over that? I want to brush it off, mow it over — the calamity, whatever it is, is microscopic to me, and don’t they know we’re late again?

Rushing grief never works. I know this. My kids know it better than I do. Grief needs its own time to unfurl, its own restless blooming. The dead fish must be mourned, buried in the sunflower pot, while you rest your head on dad’s shoulder, palm to palm with mom. It’s the contact, the continuity, the presence of love that soothes the ache, binds the cracks. Sometimes, all I have to do is be there. No answers, no rainbow, no promises. Just me, in the muddle, the muck of it. Just me, holding on.



8 thoughts on “Calamity

  1. Fantastically summed up. It reminds me of something a smart person said once, their name escapes me so I cannot give them credit.

    “sometimes we don’t want answers or the truth we just want to be comforted”

  2. Lisa-
    I just loved this post. It’s all so true, it’s just that you write it so beautifully.

    It kinds of makes me realize that being late is really microscopic in comparison to the fish, the princess band-aid, the very first fractured moments. Sure, they’ll be more, but dealing with the very “first” ones is so much more important than what time you’re walking through any door.

    • Tracey — I definitely get too caught up in the little things that seem big — like being late. I guess I collect my own calamities, in that way. You’re so right though. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Lisa, you have such a great way with words! I never really thought about it this way, but now, I have a better understanding and way to look at things thanks to you and your brilliant writing! Keep ’em coming!

  4. “Rushing grief never works.” Ain’t that the truth?

    Whenever Buckaroo is having a break down over something miniscule– like running out of his favorite toothpaste– I have to remind myself that his breakdown is really about something so much bigger that he can’t express, including, but not limited to, the lack of control he has over his big world.

  5. Lisa,

    Returning the favor of reading the blog post you submitted to CatsEyeWriter.

    All that I can say back to you is Wow! Your wisdom admidst the frustrations and contradictions and love of being a mother to young children shines through in such a poetic way. Thank you so much for sharing this moment. Your piece certainly deserves a wide audience.

    Well done!

    Creatively yours,

    • Thanks so much Brenda — I really appreciate that you stopped by and left a comment. It’s great to “meet” you and I hope we get to chat further.
      ~ lisa

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